Cold weather construction projects come with winter-specific complications. Cold can throw a number of kinks in your productivity and affect the safety of your workers.
In order to keep your project functioning smoothly, it is vital that you properly heat your construction site. For more information about the options we have available, visit our temporary heaters page.
Cold Weather Weakens Concrete as it Sets
As concrete dries, a chemical reaction changes the structure from liquid to solid. The concrete’s temperature strongly impacts how quickly that transformation occurs. To yield a durable finish, concrete needs to dry as quickly as possible, so it needs to be protected from colder temperatures that can slow drying time.
It’s important to protect your concrete from freezing temperatures. If it freezes before drying, concrete’s structure is damaged, reducing the durability beyond repair. Since water expands as it freezes, the concrete needs to develop enough strength to resist the pressure.
Finishing Drywall in the Cold
If you try to use spackle or joint compound on drywall in temperatures below 60°F, you will find that it becomes brittle and doesn’t adhere to the wall properly. You’ll also run into trouble when it comes time to paint the wall. Because cold temperatures slow evaporation, the colder the environment, the longer paint takes to dry. Once you factor in the drying times between coats, this can really add to your total project time and take away from your productivity.
You also have to consider how cold changes the chemical structure of your paint. As paint gets too cold, it will become thick and nearly impossible to spread.
Cold Conditions Can Cause Health Problems
According to OSHA, in cold weather, construction workers are commonly subject to health conditions like frostbite and hypothermia. These conditions occur when blood leaves extremities to protect internal organs and when the body loses heat faster than it can replace it. The risk factor goes up in colder weather and is exacerbated by damp conditions.
Construction Heater Rentals
Once you consider the effects the cold has on your equipment, productivity, and worker safety, properly heating your construction site should become an obvious priority.
Direct fired heaters offer the perfect solution for open construction sites that require temporary heat to cure concrete and paint. Direct fired heaters run on gas, propane or diesel fuel and convert 100% of their fuel supply to direct heat. Keep in mind, direct fired heaters increase the temperature of a space with an exposed flame, so your construction site should be properly ventilated to avoid high levels of moisture and unsafe CO2 emissions.
Sometimes construction drying can become a burden on sites where there happens to be extra moisture in the air. A high level of moisture can delay your project, increase the risk of mold and weaken the overall foundation of your space. Although construction heater rentals will take care of temperature control, a dehumidifier rental is a great option for limiting moisture, which can keep your project on schedule.
If your construction job requires heat in several pockets of your site, you might consider directing heat to specific areas by renting industrial fans. It may seem a little silly to rent fans during colder months but industrial fans offer the ability to control where your space receives the most heat.
If your site is enclosed and sees a lot of foot traffic throughout the day, an indirect fired heater may be the right type of heater rental for you. Indirect fired heaters use propane, diesel fuel or natural gas to warm up a heat exchanger which increases the air temperature in a space. Generally, indirect fired heaters are installed outside and pump air into a room through attached duct work.
For more information on keeping your site safely heated, check out our construction site heating strategies.